“The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” – George Carlin
It’s obvious that when a caterpillar goes into its chrysalis on its way to being a butterfly, lots of changes take place. Squirmy little caterpillars don’t become lithe, beautiful, winged beings overnight – and not without struggle. What actually happens inside the chrysalis is that the caterpillar body dissolves into mush. “Imaginal cells” – cells that had been dormant in the caterpillar form –activate and start to create the process of reforming all the organic material into the stunning butterfly that will emerge.
Imaginal cells don’t initially cooperate – they exist and operate independently, and are even attacked by the immune system when it doesn’t recognize them as being an integral part of the being. Over time, they multiply, and start to entrain with each other, cooperating and communicating to work in tandem and emerge as a brand new being.
This analogy is often used in spiritual and psychological circles to explain the changes that take place in individuals during periods of growth and struggle. But how much more does it apply right now to our country and our industry? Coronavirus has dissolved our usual structures and behaviors into an amorphous soup of sorts. We are in a holding pattern in the “chrysalis” of our own homes – some of us working, some of us unemployed with time on our hands, some of us receiving government relief; some of us struggling mightily to pay our bills and care for our families with lack of income; some of us taking on different jobs to make ends meet in the interim; some of us managing this emotional and economic limbo with patience and grace (with the help of chocolate or alcohol), and some of us acting with impatience and aggression, insisting we get back to being caterpillars!
Now in June, where do we stand? How far along to becoming butterflies do we find ourselves? Has your state “opened up?” Partially? Completely? What is the caseload of infections like in your area? How have you changed your work process to operate safely during the crisis, and how will you engage in public gatherings as the summer wears on? Have you received government relief to assist your business or has red tape or inadequate funding grounded you?
It seems to me that we are still in chrysalis mode (as of this writing on April 27), and the new “being” that will emerge is still forming. We are adopting new features. Our major trade show was cancelled, but 4,000 people attended or participated in the virtual trade show Coverings Connected at coverings.com. People are connecting professionally and personally via Facebook, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts and other virtual conferencing services for meetings, classes, worship services and even dinners and cocktail parties. I recently got to virtually meet people I had only emailed with during a Tile Chix zoom cocktail party. You’ll read about some of these creative technologies in this month’s Business story, written by Contributing Editor Louis Iannoco.
NTCA has partnered with workshop hosts to convert in-person events into virtual training events, to continue bringing important information to tile contractors. And because NTCA trainers are not traveling to NTCA Workshops, they have some time to author excellent technical articles for TileLetter, like the piece on layout this month, written by Robb Roderick.
No one knows the exact trajectory for this metamorphosis. The hope is that we begin to entrain and work together – as an industry and a country – to emerge with new skills, technologies and economic structures that characterize a new incarnation of what has existed before. It could be a beautiful thing. Let’s do what we can to make it so.